Commission to Trump: Declare Opioid Crisis National Emergency

The president’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis last week issued its interim report, stating “our nation is in crisis” and calling on President Trump to declare the issue a national emergency.

Governor Charlie Baker serves on the commission which is chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

A major recommendation in the interim report calls on the federal government to grant Medicaid waivers to the Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion within the Medicaid program. As the commission explained, the exclusion “prohibits federal Medicaid funds from reimbursing services provided in an inpatient facility treating ‘mental diseases’ [including substance use disorder] that have more than 16 beds. This exclusion makes states entirely responsible for Medicaid-eligible patients in inpatient treatment facilities, including patients undergoing withdrawal management in addiction treatment facilities rather than hospitals.”

Eliminating the restriction, the commissioners wrote, “is the single fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation.”
The commission also urged the federal government to mandate that medical education training include courses in proper opioid prescribing. The commission pointed to the Massachusetts experience of adopting this educational practice stance with the assistance of the Mass. Medical Society and the higher education institutions in the state.

The commission’s entire interim report is here.